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Anti-piracy war pays off, Kenya maritime waters declared safe for trade

Kenya maritime waters within the Indian Ocean is now expected to witness increased trade activities following the re-designation from High-Risk Area by the fifth edition of Best Management Practices to deter piracy also known as BMP-5.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the move by the global shipping industry is expected to save Kenya and East Africa millions of dollars in insurance and security-related expenses.

“The decision by the BMP-5 has been communicated to the London-based 174-member International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the United Nations (UN) agency responsible for improving the safety and security of global shipping,” said a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

According to MFA, the move by the global shipping industry to label Kenyan waters as high-risk in 2009 had made shipping prohibitively expensive and threatened the nascent blue economy.

The decision to classify Kenya’s territorial waters in the Indian Ocean more than a decade ago had been reached due to increased hijackings of large ships by Somali militants with the famous being MV Maersk Alabama.

“Cargo ships destined for Mombasa also took longer routes, beyond 300 nautical miles from the Indian Ocean coastline, to avoid encountering pirates, while other cargo ships hired private security aboard their ships for increased protection,” stated MFA.

MFA similarly attributes the BMP-5 decision to increased surveillance and joint maritime patrols by the Kenya Coast Guard Services and the Kenya Navy within the Kenyan maritime waters which have resulted in significant reduction in piracy incidents, with no piracy incidents recorded since 2017.

“This decision frees Kenya from what had become a major restriction to the shipping industry, it also frees the rest of East Africa, and drastically lowers costs of supplies from all over the world.”

Kenya has also committed to strengthen marine security within its territorial waters as well as develop a more dynamic threat assessment process through collaboration with various agencies such as EUNAVFOR Atlanta in order to curtail re-emergence of piracy activities.

Regional countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan who depend on the port of Mombasa for both their exports and imports are expected to benefit from reduction of maritime insurance, thereby resulting in increased competitiveness of their products.

Kenya’s negotiation team to re-designate its marine waters during the 18 months was led by State Department for Shipping and Maritime Affairs Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu, High Commissioner to the UK Amb. Manoah Esipisu, with strategic guidance from the National Development Implementation and Communication Committee (NDICC).

Written by: KBC

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